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FLEXO Magazine : June2010
Working Smarter Bobst/F&K smartGPS Wins FTA Technical Innovation Award By Christian R. Bonawandt Imagine you are in your car. You intend to drive toward a spe- cific destination. But at the moment, you have no idea where you are. As a result, you drive around sporadically until you find a point of reference, at which time you can determine how to get where you want go, and can begin your trip. This is how Bobst Group/Fischer & Krecke GmbH describes the old-fashioned way of setting up register and impression. Since the early days of aniline printing, the manual estab- lishment of print settings has resulted in tremendous waste of ink, substrate and labor. In the wide web printing market, it has made runs under 100,000ft. challenging to produce economically, and anything under 50,000ft. almost impossible. As presses began to incorporate automation systems, the computers would emulate the same trial-and-error process of searching for the optimum impression and register. This changed in 2008 when Bobst Group/Fischer & Krecke GmbH unveiled its smartGPS technology. Much like a global positioning system, Bobst Group/Fischer & Krecke GmbH’s graphic positioning system (GPS) determines where you are, where you want to be and what the most efficient route is to get there—all BEFORE the plate, sleeve and anilox are insert- ed into the press. The result is less waste, faster makeready, increased available press time, and improved print quality, just to name a few. For this and many other reasons, Bobst Group/Fischer & Krecke GmbH’s smartGPS technology is the 2010 FTA Techni- cal Innovation Award winner. The technology was first described on pages 20-24 of FLEXO’s April 2009 edition. The system uses a specially designed mounting system, as well as enhancements to the sleeves. It takes a topographical measurement of the entire plate surface and circumference, as well the anilox rolls. All this is calculated within a one-micron accuracy. The informa- tion is combined with data on the durometer of the plate, sleeve and mounting tape—the entire plate package—and enters the parameters into specifically develop algorithms to calculate the optimum register and impression setting for each print deck. The data is stored in rewritable RFID chips embedded in both the print sleeve and anilox roll. The press then reads this information and sets the decks before the first impression is even made. The end result is a print process that requires vastly less hands to achieve optimum impression. Bobst Group/Fischer & Krecke GmbH’s smartGPS technology takes the art out of flexography, facilitating a more precise and scientific process. PoSition in Practice Among the more than 40 installations of smartGPS technol- ogy in the world is Plastic Packaging Inc., Hickory, NC. This long-time FTA member has a history immersed in quality control and environmental stewardship. The company is a family owned and privately held printing/converting firm with two manufacturing plants (the second in nearby Forest City), employing 185 people. Plastic Packaging runs eight presses with web widths rang- ing from 35in. up to 66in. , serving the confectionary, health care, frozen foods, pet products, nutraceuticals, snack food, and lawn and garden markets. It employs Six Sigma, 5S, 5 Whys, variability reduction and other process and qual- ity control methodologies. In 2008, the firm received FTA’s Environmental Excellence Award for Technical Innovation TechnoloGIeS & TechnIqueS 26 FLeXO june 2010 www.flexography.org How smartGPS Works: • A specially designed mounting system takes a topo- graphical measurement of the combined plate, sticky back and sleeve surface and circumference, as well the anilox rolls. • The information is combined with data on the durom- eter of the plate, sleeve and mounting tape. • The system calculates the optimum register and impression setting for each print deck. • All data is stored in rewritable RFID chips embedded in both the print sleeve and anilox roll. • The press then reads this information and sets the decks before the first impression is even made. TheKeytoPremiumFlexoAddMoreCommunicationWel c ometotheLaunch T h e n e w FLE X P R ESS 15 - Se ri e s I t ’ s Y ourBus i ness . SpotOn!T h e p erfecta n swert o y ou r fl ex ibl e p acka ging p r in t ing n ee d s . FLX_June2010_mech.indd 26 6/10/10 9:38 AM